Food Trends: US Consumer Preferences

See how food trends in the US are influenced by consumer preferences

May 14, 2024 –  US consumer food trends are influenced by many different factors. Some of these pertain to global forces that impact consumers around the world. These include a focus on health and a healthy lifestyle, increased cost of living, political and global threats, concerns about health of the planet, and progress in technology. Some consumer food trends in the US show the impact of lifestyle themes from around the world. One lifestyle theme demonstrates consumer desire to live a healthy life. A second lifestyle theme incorporates consumer consciousness about factors such as the environment, social welfare, financial health, and physical health. Another theme describes how occasions are changing, with US consumers and others around the world socializing and entertaining more at home. A fourth theme revolves around treats and rewards, looking at every day versus special occasion.

Food Trends: Certain Product Features Drive US Consumers

Several types of claims are part of US food consumer trends. Products that have natural, wholesome, and recognizable ingredients listed on the label have the type of clean label that US consumers seek. US consumers also look for products that do not have artificial ingredients and are free of GMOs. Protein claims resonate with consumers. Traditional claims that are important include lower fat and reduced sugar.

Product Features Define US Consumer Trends in Alcohol and Zero Alcohol

Several product features grab the attention of US beverage consumers. In alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, US consumers rely on awareness of brands and products. Premium products and products with a claim for premium quality are especially desirable but so are traditional and natural features. Consumers who are reducing alcohol consumption also are swayed by budget, health, and changing taste preferences. In alcohol and zero alcohol, as in other categories, taste is critically important.

Water, Soft Drinks, and Juices are Popular

Food trends in the US show that US consumers are drinking more bottled water than ever. They are attracted to bottled water for its healthy image and lack of artificial ingredients. Taste drives consumer trends for soft drinks. Other influential factors depend on the type of soft drink – health in iced tea and juices, changing tastes in iced coffee, and variety in energy drinks. Consumer demand for iced tea is growing faster than for iced coffee.

Food Trends US Consumer Preferences

Balancing Health, Indulgence, and Clean Claims in Beverages

US consumer trends show that health claims affect purchases of sodas and energy drinks. The top feature to limit is sugar, while the top added ingredients are vitamins and minerals. Iced coffee is valued for premium ingredients and indulgence claims. Clean label claims resonate for purchasers of iced tea and juices and include natural, no artificial flavors, and no artificial colors.

Health and Taste Drive Breads and Cereals

US consumers who say they are eating more bread are motivated to buy bread brands for health and naturalness. They look for whole- and multi-grain breads, natural claims, and fiber claims. Taste is the top consumer driver for cereals. US consumers who are eating more cereal are doing so for health. They name claims regarding fiber, sugar reduction, naturalness, and clean label.

US Dairy Consumers Consider Taste, Health, and Cost

US food trends show that US consumers are likely to be dairy consumers. Compared to the global average, the diet of US consumers has more cheese, less yogurt, and about the same amount of milk. Taste is the top consideration for cheese and yogurt while cost matters most when US consumers buy milk. Consumers also name health considerations, especially for yogurt. Top health and clean claims relate to natural, protein, and reduction of fat and protein. reduction claims are also influential yogurt purchasers.

Cost and Health Impact Meat and Fish Purchases

US consumers eat somewhat less meat, poultry and fish than the global average, with cost as a key factor. However, they report in consumer trends research that they are switching to fish and seafood because of cost. Other important factors in fish purchases include health, led by protein, freshness, and the environment. Claims about safety and sources also are important.

Meal Preparation Products Should be Tasty, Natural, and Convenient

Taste is the most important meal prep solution feature for US consumers. Natural claims, including no artificial flavors and colors, influence consumers who purchase sauces and dips categories; these consumers are purchasing more because of taste preferences, lifestyle, and desire for more variety. In spreads, food trends research shows that US consumers are attracted by variety and sugar reduction. Savory spreads are purchased more for variety and novelty and sweet spreads are purchased more for changing lifestyle needs. Other influential claims include premium, sugar reduction, tradition, and convenience.

In Snacks and Treats, Natural Matters to US Consumers

Natural is the top snacks and treats feature valued by US consumers. Taste also is a motivator, especially for cereal and energy bars. US consumers who are eating more of certain snacks and treats say that their tastes have changed or because they are healthy. Consumers also look for real ingredients, traditionally made, and indulgence. Protein and fiber are important, especially in cereal bars. US consumers especially appreciate the convenience of snacks and treats.

Eating Plant-Based and Sports Nutrition for Health and Natural

Natural and health claims are the most effective way to attract US consumers of plant-based foods and sports nutrition. Consumers also mention changing lifestyles and taste preferences. Plant-based, protein, and sugar reduction claims capture consumer attention also. Personal health, including protein and reduction in sugar, drives US consumer interest in sports nutrition.


This article is based on our report, “Category Growth Drivers in the US.” If you are interested in reading this report, feel free to request a demo.
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